Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

Two things every older adult should know October 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 2:38 pm

My sweet friend, Gertrude, died yesterday morning. On the day before she passed away, I had visited her in the assisted living center where she had lived the last few months. When she saw me, she gave me a slight smile. I could see weariness across her face. When I asked if she was tired, she nodded her head in affirmation.

The thing is, as difficult as these last months have been for Gertrude as she has dealt with complications of diabetes, she has  accepted the challenges with grace. She had left behind the home where she had created so many memories. When her little finger and toe had to be amputated, we teased about her not needing a pinkie ring or a toe ring. When she had to move from a one-bedroom apartment of a retirement community to a single room at an assisted living center, she shrugged and said, “I know it’s for the best even though it’s hard.” I watched her face each transition with courage.  

In thinking back, I realize that Gertrude knew two very important things that many people, including many older adults, do not know. First, she knew that her family loved her dearly. Her eyes twinkled every time she talked about her daughters or her grandchildren. She loved being with her siblings and extended family to play cards… but mostly to laugh and tell stories.  Her family loved her well, and she was blessed in knowing it. They made hard times somehow easier.

Second, Gertrude knew that her eternal future was secure. She had a deep faith in God that touched the lives of those who came in contact with her. It was not a flashy kind of faith, but a deep-abiding belief in her Creator and in his promises. She was prepared to die. 

Since Gertrude’s death, I have thought a lot about those two things… knowing that your family loves you dearly and knowing that your future is secure in God’s promises.  How I wish that every older adult could know them, too.


One Response to “Two things every older adult should know”

  1. Theresa S. Ozuna Says:

    It is true that every older adult should know two things … love of family and security in God’s promises. I think think that many adults are unable to see these two gifts because of the fear surrounding them … fear of one’s imminent death. My father refused dialysis and had five months to live. All he wanted was to be surrounded by those he loved and “life” … life of younger children and new experiences (e.g., soap operas versus cowboy movies). It wasn’t until his family let him go, released him of our burdens of fear, respecting his wishes, etc. that he was able to leave in peace. I had to speak to the Hospice nurse and social worker who would visit and wore Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief like a shield. Dad asked, “Why do they keep asking me about my regrets and other such things?! Why can’t they just visit me and talk to me about their husbands and children … I already know my regrets and that I am dying. I want to know about the living before I go!” The nurse and social worker were stunned by his request and yet they marveled each time that Dad wanted to know more about them … but they still stuck to their training and Kubler-Ross. Every older adult should know complete peace in their last days … by continuing to fill their hearts with love of life.

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